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English>>China Society

Flights beef up security staff after episodes

By Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)

09:05, September 12, 2012

CHINESE airlines have increased onboard security staff on some domestic routes amid threats and fighting incidents in the air.

The Shanghai and Spring airlines yesterday told Shanghai Daily more plainclothes safety officials who sit among passengers have been added, but declined to say on which routes and the number of extra staff for safety reasons.

"All the domestic carriers have upgraded the security level in line with the raising of security checks on many domestic airports," said the press officer with the Shanghai Airlines, owned by the China Eastern.

Each domestic flight has onboard safety staffers who sit randomly among passengers according to orders from the captains. They, both male and female and mostly retired from armed police forces, are said to be able to subdue a criminal within several seconds.

Their major tasks include maintaining order and preventing attempts to hijack or damage the aircraft.

China Eastern Airlines has about 1,500 onboard safety guards while China Southern has around 2,000, according to media reports.

"The safety staffers receive at least 12 hours of physical training every month and need to update their certificates through various tests every three years," said Tang Wei, a staff trainer with China Eastern.

The enhanced onboard security measures follow a series of incidents on Chinese carriers within a month.

In the latest case, a passenger was caught on a Beijing Capital Airlines flight claiming there was a bomb onboard. The threat made the taxiing plane have to return to the apron for inspection in Sanya City of southern China's Hainan Province on Sunday night. The plane was heading to Guangzhou.

No bomb was found, the airline and the authority of Sanya Phoenix Airport said yesterday. The captain took the plane with 172 passengers onboard back to the apron. Police later held the man, surnamed Yu, and his four companions.

It was the second incident in which a Chinese flight was forced to return after hoax calls within two weeks. A Shenzhen Airlines flight was diverted to an airport in central China's Hubei Province after receiving a threatening call late last month.

Meanwhile, two groups of passengers began fighting aboard a Sichuan Airlines' flight from Saipan to Shanghai on Friday. Onboard security staffers halted the fights, the airline said yesterday.

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